Consuming peanuts or peanut butter more than five times a week could reduce the risk of getting gallbladder disease, according to new research.

Reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition this month, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that compared with those who rarely ate peanuts or peanut butter, women consuming one serving of peanuts (28g, 1oz), almost daily, had a 20% reduced risk of having to have a cholecystectomy (removal of a diseased gallbladder). Similarly, eating half a serving of peanut butter (about one teaspoon) five or more days per week reduced the risk by 15%.

The research suggests that the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in nuts, peanuts and peanut butter may act as inhibitors to gallstone formation. In addition, the results show that even after controlling for the intake of specific fatty acids, the protective effect of nuts was still evident, suggesting that other nutrients in nuts may also contribute to the reduction in risk of gallbladder disease.